Johannesburg has been experiencing lower than average rainfall this rainy season and with the heatwaves we have been enduring, the Johannesburg population has increased its water usage at an alarming rate. It is for these reasons that Rand Water had implemented Stage 2 water restrictions.
Being water-wise not only helps to ensure the sustainability of a precious natural resource but also helps to take the strain off of our current water system.
Here are a few tips you could follow to help save water in your garden during the summer.
1. Know when to water your plants
The best time to water your garden is early morning before temperatures begin to rise or early evening, once temperatures start to drop. With less evaporation than during mid-day, you will give your plants the best chance to absorb the water and they will be more prepared to handle the heat of the day.
Research has shown that pot plants benefit most from water in the afternoon – depending on the potting soil used. Pine bark is mostly used for potted plants, and this can dry out quickly. Keep an eye on your pot plants to see if they need a second watering in the afternoon.
To check if the soil is damp enough, look at the soil about a spade-deep down. If the soil is moist, it’s fine. If the soil is dry, you need to water your plant.
During the summer, you should be able to water your plants at night, but avoid this during cooler months as the water could freeze and damage the plants.
2. Re-use water
Save your cooking water – water used to cook vegetables often contains nutrients lost from the veggies during the cooking process. Instead of pouring it down the drain, use this nutrient-rich water to water your plants (after cooling of course…).
Install a water tank – this can be used to catch roof water runoff which can be redirected into your garden. You can also use buckets and other containers to catch rainwater to be redirected to your garden.
Collect shower water and re-use bathwater (grey water) – use a few buckets to catch the water as it heats up – this can be re-used for the garden instead of it just running down the drain. Avoid using water containing harsh chemicals such as bleach and disinfectant as this could damage plants. Most household cleaners are safe for the environment, however.
3. Mulching and Composting
Mulch keeps the soil cooler during the day and helps prevent water evaporation by covering the soil with a protective layer of bark and debris such as leaves, etc. It helps to regulate the soil temperature and can hamper the growth of weeds – ensure the mulch is at least 4 cm’s thick and do not place it too close to the base of the stems or trunks to prevent rot.
Worm castings and compost help retain the moisture and nutrients in your soil.
4. Choose plants that need less water
Some plants need more water than others to survive.
5. Use the correct watering techniques
Sprinklers are best for watering larger areas such as lawn or unplanted areas – this is not recommended if you need to target specific areas in your garden. Hoses and watering cans should not be used to water your gardens during stage 2 water restrictions. Seep hoses allow water to seep out of tiny holes all along the hose and it can be buried under soil or mulch – this can prevent evaporation – best to use when watering established plant life and for heavier soil varieties. Automated irrigation systems can be costly to install, but you are able to set the exact amount of water to be released at the correct time. This can completely eliminate waste.